Teorema 010: Process sketch, Galician Center for Contemporary Art, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Alvaro Siza.

Teorema 010: Process sketch, Galician Center for Contemporary Art, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Alvaro Siza.

This sketch for the Centro Galego Arte Contemporanea (CGAC – Galician Centre for Contemporary Art) reflects Siza’s concern for the exterior massing and façade articulation of this building. He writes that the project represents a study of volumes, materials and language. In this project he is concerned with the small site, and the various scales and significance of the surrounding structures. The program that designated exhibition space, auditorium, and cafeteria and service areas is shown in the separation of volumes by the various functional spaces.

Having viewed several of Siza’s design sketches, this sketch conveys his typical process where he stacks numerous perspectives on one sheet. Several of the views show the building from a distance emphasizing how the building sits on the terrain. The variations on a theme overlap where a new thought possessed him, ignoring the image beneath. Not necessarily the result of scarce availability of paper, the dense proximity of the sketches probably allowed Siza to constantly reference either the overall form of the building or the earlier alternative solutions.

The sketches appear to be thoughtful studies rather than first abstract impressions. This shows in the techniques of texture (drawing the separate pieces of granite on the façade) and light accentuating the surface materials. The low perspective angle of the sketch on the upper left demonstrates the monumentality of the bold forms. This study sketch appears to have been concerned with the joining of the volumes and the understanding of solid/void relationships, not necessarily the first organizational diagrams. Each sketch has been thoroughly articulated as if he needed to participate with its construction. This intense ability to see as part of a design process can be connected to understanding as Siza writes: There are two different words in Portuguese that mean “to look” and “to see and understand” olhar and ver. The tool of an architect is to be able to see.

Less about an immediate impression the sketches contain a certain pondering that reveals their volumetric interaction.

Text and image from Kendra Schank Smith, Architects Drawings, Architectural Press, Oxford, 2005

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